|Author: Carrot Sauce||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 3123 characters|
|Translator: Aoi||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1511 words|
Despite her injuries, Ayaka’s strength was still akin to that of a double-soul Big Dipper stage expert, even without her treasures, and she was on the path to recovering her power. Fuyutsuki, itself a treasure capable of traversing the boundless deep sea, was formidable. While a Throned Monarch’s attack wouldn’t leave a mark, a strike from a Throned Saint could severely damage the interior, potentially causing numerous casualties among the visitors and attendants.
Reika’s assault was sudden but, to Ayaka, painfully slow.
In an instant, the room transformed into a dark starry sky just before Reika’s blade could reach Ayaka, and a tremendous force constricted around her, stifling her strength entirely.
“Sister Ayaka has projected her soul world into the room,” Lily assessed from the other room. Though a Throned Saint couldn’t harm Ayaka, Lily had been concerned that a battle might damage the ship and endanger innocent lives. It appeared her worry was unfounded.
With swift precision, Ayaka had completely sealed Reika’s powers.
“What?!” Reika’s shock was palpable. She hadn’t anticipated her opponent suppressing her midair with such absolute force, rendering her immobile.
Ayaka countered with a gentle strike to Reika’s underbody, dispersing her inner energy and causing her to flip over, followed by a stinging whip to her backside.
“Aah!” Reika’s moan was tinged with embarrassment.
From Kimiko’s treasures, Ayaka produced a simple-looking rope that could bind anyone below the triple-soul Big Dipper level, and with mere thought, she tied Reika’s hands and legs behind her. The soul world projection vanished, leaving Reika helpless on the floor.
Unyielding, Ayaka stepped on Reika’s backside with her leather boot, her eyes showing no mercy to the one who had dared attack her.
Reika’s disbelief was evident in her ragged breaths. As a Throned Saint and a powerhouse in Iyo, she hadn’t expected such a beautiful woman to overpower her with ease.
“Why did you attack me?” Ayaka demanded, lifting Reika’s chin with her whip.
With a stubborn glare, Reika retorted, “I’m no match for you. Just kill me1!”
Ayaka’s response was a helpless shake of her head and another strike of her whip.
“Mm… No…” Reika trembled, eyes tightly shut.
“Hmph. You fear pain yet not death?” Ayaka’s mood was dark, and her gaze chilled as she looked down at Reika.
At that moment, Lily swung the door open and strode into the room, causing Reika to reel in astonishment once again. The thought that two such striking women would be present on Fuyutsuki tonight hadn’t crossed her mind, particularly one as formidable as the mature woman in leather.
“Just who are you two?” Reika demanded, her voice filled with confusion.
Lily approached Reika and calmly replied, “That question is ours to ask. Weren’t you searching for the Night Queen? Why attack my sister so suddenly?”
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“Hmph! She isn’t the Night Queen! Are you two spies or something?” Reika shot back, frustration bubbling in her voice.
“Spies? You’re the suspicious one here, not us. Why are you so convinced that I’m not the Night Queen?” Ayaka retorted, her whip gliding smoothly over Reika’s waist and backside.
“The Night Queen is rumored to be half-human, half-demon2, but you are clearly a pure human. Although you carry a demeanor similar to hers, you aren’t the real Night Queen! If you’re not her, then you must be impersonating her. What else could you be if not a spy?” Reika argued defiantly.
“You keep mentioning spies, but to whom are you referring?” Lily probed, her voice calm.
“Hmph.” Reika’s only response was a curt refusal.
“Why were you so determined to meet the Night Queen?” Ayaka interjected, tapping Reika’s backside with her whip. “You don’t seem to hail from wealth, and the money you have likely isn’t legitimate. Aren’t you ashamed to argue when you’ve spent such a vast sum on such questionable activities?”
Reika’s face flushed. “I-I’m not a pervert! If it weren’t for the princess, I would’ve never done something like this!”
“Princess?” Lily’s interest was piqued. “Which princess are you referring to, Ms. Reika?”
“Stop playing dumb,” Reika snapped. “Since you’ve set a trap for me, I bet you already know that I’m the princess’ personal guard. Do whatever you want. Even if I’m no match for you, I would never betray the princess.”
Lily and Ayaka exchanged a glance before helping Reika to a sitting position, though her restraints remained. The pair then took seats across from her.
“Are you referring to the princess of Iyo’s Asuka Kingdom?” Lily inquired.
“Who else would I be referring to?” Reika’s admission was grudging but candid.
“I’m afraid there’s a misunderstanding,” Lily explained. “My sister and I hail from Akitsu’s Heian-kyo, not Iyo. We’ve never even been to Iyo until now, so we’re unrelated to what’s happening there.”
“Yeah, we’re just here for business in Iyo and know nothing about the local forces or the spies you mention,” Ayaka added.
“You… really aren’t spies? But without proof, why should I believe you?”
Ayaka was firm. “We don’t need to prove anything. Believing us is your choice. We’re only here because Mr. Riku, Fuyutsuki’s manager, asked for help with a demanding client. Although I’m not the Night Queen, this outfit does belong to her. It seems you don’t share her interests, and since you don’t trust us, let’s part ways now. Pay for the services you’ve used, and don’t cause trouble again. Otherwise, things won’t end peacefully next time.”
With a wave of her hand, Ayaka got up and stowed away the rope that had bound Reika.
“Huh?” Reika’s disbelief was obvious as the pair prepared to leave.
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“Let’s go, Lily.”
Witnessing the exit of the formidable woman in leather and her companion in a crimson minidress, Reika sought to gauge their capabilities and realized that they were masters of incredible power. She had no knowledge of the enemy possessing such remarkable women; their striking appearances alone would have made them well-known. Her lack of prior information about them led Reika to question whether they were genuinely unconnected to her adversaries.
“Hold on!” Reika’s voice rang out, prompting Lily and Ayaka to pause at the door and turn back.
A frown creased Ayaka’s face as she asked, “Do you want me to punish you again, huh?”
“Of course not!” Reika snapped, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
Taking a deep breath, she knelt before Lily and Ayaka, her body trembling.
“W-Why is she doing this? Could it be that she’s truly a *********?” Lily was mortified, fearful that Ayaka might be inclined to discipline her.
“I was in the wrong, sisters! I hope you’ll forgive me,” Reika pleaded.
Lily shook her head in resignation. Some people were just like that, skeptical at first but changing their minds at the last minute.
“Don’t worry about it. It was a mere misunderstanding. Regardless, you’re still a valued client of Fuyutsuki. We have other matters to attend to, so continue to enjoy yourself here,” Lily replied, a note of disapproval in her voice as she turned to leave.
“Please wait, sisters!” Reika’s voice was desperate as she crawled forward, bowing before Lily’s and Ayaka’s feet once more. “I need your assistance and hope you’ll hear me out!”
“…” Lily and Ayaka exchanged a glance, seemingly moved by Reika’s sincerity and loyalty, and they nodded in assent.
The trio settled on the floor once more, Reika’s eyes darting nervously. Ayaka was quick to reassure her. “You don’t need to worry about eavesdroppers. You’re completely safe here. Plus, I’ve isolated the sound in this room with a barrier. No one will hear us.”
Introducing herself as Takamine Reika, the personal bodyguard of Princess Asuka, she confessed her true mission: “I traveled from Iyo on my master’s orders to find an expert that fits the princess’ needs.”
“You’re strong, and from what we understand, so is your master. Why seek an expert?” Lily inquired.
Reika’s eyes brimmed with concern, mirroring the anxious expression often worn by her princess—a worry for their kingdom and its people.
“Iyo has been without sunlight for years now3. The never-ending famines, plagues, and monster invasions have driven our people to the brink. It’s a living nightmare! The kingdom is on the verge of ruin, and my master desires to unite the world’s experts under her banner to repel the monstrous threat and shield the kingdom and its inhabitants.”
“However,” Reika continued, “the support from the kingdom alone won’t suffice to reach this goal. Therefore, the princess sent me to traverse the globe, seeking those who could assist us. I learned that the Night Queen of Fuyutsuki, despite her odd preferences and penchant for bullying young women, is a champion of justice and a supreme expert. Yet, the kingdom harbors forces that resist the princess, so I had to act with the utmost discretion, pretending to be a guest seeking the Night Queen’s discipline. Though it seemed like I was wasting funds, the money came from the princess’ military reserves! Every expenditure was a blow4. Our kingdom is already impoverished, and even the princess leads a modest life…”
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